, Volume 56, Issue 1, pp 25–47 | Cite as

The Impact of Forced Migration on Mortality: Evidence From German Pension Insurance Records

  • Thomas K. Bauer
  • Matthias GieseckeEmail author
  • Laura M. Janisch


We examine the long-run effects of forced migration for individuals who were displaced from Eastern Europe to Germany in the aftermath of World War II. Evidence suggests that displaced individuals were worse off economically, facing a considerably lower income and a higher unemployment risk than comparable nondisplaced Germans, even 20 years after being expelled. We extend this literature by investigating mortality outcomes. Using social security records that document the exact date of death and a proxy for pre-retirement lifetime earnings, we estimate a significantly and considerably higher mortality risk among forced migrants compared with nondisplaced West Germans. The adverse displacement effect persists throughout the earnings distribution except for the top quintile. Although forced migrants were generally worse off regarding mortality outcomes, those with successful labor market histories seem to have overcome the long-lasting negative consequences of flight and expulsion.


Forced migration Differential mortality Lifetime earnings Economic history 



We are grateful to Ronald Bachmann, Gerard van den Berg, Julia Bredtmann, Bernd Fitzenberger, Joseph-Simon Görlach, Elke Jahn, Rainer Kotschy, and Regina Riphahn for helpful suggestions, and we thank the editors and three anonymous referees for their valuable comments that helped to improve this article. We also thank the participants of the meetings of the DFG-SPP 1764 Priority Program (Essen, 2016), RWI Research Seminar (2016), RGS Conference (Dortmund, 2017), ESPE Conference (Glasgow, 2017) and the DFG-SPP 1764 International Conference (Nürnberg, 2018) for insightful discussions. We further thank the team of the research center of the German Federal Pension Insurance (FDZ-RV), in particular Ute Kirst-Budzak, Torsten Hammer, and Ingmar Hansen, for supporting the data processing. Fabian Dehos, Gökay Demir, and Jan Wergula provided excellent research assistance. Financial support from the German Research Foundation (DFG-SPP 1764) is gratefully acknowledged.

Supplementary material

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ESM 1 (PDF 119 kb)


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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas K. Bauer
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Matthias Giesecke
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Laura M. Janisch
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.RWIEssenGermany
  2. 2.Department of Management and EconomicsRuhr-University BochumBochumGermany
  3. 3.Institute of Labor Economics (IZA)BonnGermany
  4. 4.Ruhr Graduate School in Economics (RGS Econ)EssenGermany

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